On the way to (or past) Hanapepe, visitors often pull over for this stunning view of the Hanapepe Valley.
The Hanapepe Valley seems to preview the even more stunning Waimea Canyon up the road.
As you can see, very few people are convinced by this sign. Even our intrepid photographer David Croxford is clearly on the wrong side of the guardrail. We'll speak to him about it.
Many visitors, in a hurry to get to Waimea Canyon, drive right past Hanapepe. You have to duck off the highway at this sign.
Hanapepe is a classic Hawaii town. It was sketched as a background for Disney’s “Lilo and Stitch."
The entrance to Hanapepe town. Look out for roosters.
Once the home of independent spirits who wanted to leave plantation life, Hanapepe is now home to a new group of independent spirits, artists and gallery owners.
Self-taught painter Giorgio realized people would stop at his gallery, once they saw his pickup truck filled with bougainvilla.
Next to his pickup truck is Giorgio's Fine Art Gallery.
3871 Hanapepe Road, 808-335-3949, giorgiosart.com
This eye-catching fire truck still operates.
As in much of rural Hawaii, a lot of things sell on the honor system.
Dale Nagamine hand makes Taro Ko chips from taro his family grows. 3940 Hanapepe Rd., (808) 335-5586.
In the 1932, this building was the Sun Ki Heong Chinese Restaurant. Almost destroyed by Hurricane ‘Iniki, it has been restored as the Storybook Theatre. In back is a garden dedicated to a hometown hero, former U.S. Senator Spark Matsunaga.
3814 Hanapepe Rd., (808) 335-0712, www.storybook.org
The Storybook Theatre produces a TV show called “Russell Da Rooster,” holds classes in media production for local youth. Sparky is the nickname for Spark Matsunaga, Hanapepe's own U.S. Senator.
The Storybook Theatre's media library is a testament to the work of its director Mark Jeffers, who nurtured this performing and visual arts center.
No restroom. But a nice bit of pidgin.
A forerunner in the town's restoration, the Banana Patch Studio occupies a historic building that was once a bakery and then a pool hall. It took four years of hard work to restore the abandoned building.
The playful Joanna Carolan rescued the old pool hall. Now her Banana Patch studio employs 22 artisans and supplies nearly 150 gift stores throughout the Islands with ceramics.
Carolan spends half her time helping with Hanapepe’s restoration. “I think of the town as an extension of my art studio,” she says.
3865 Hanapepe Rd., (808) 335-5944, bananapatchstudio.com
Patricia Yu applies finishing touches to a Banana Patch cup.
"I tried to create the jobs I wanted as a young person on Kauai," says Joanna Carolan of Banana Patch.
Helen Lacona's Hanapepe Bakery and Cafe provides light meals and sweet treats—and serves as an anchor for the town.
3830 Hanapepe Rd., 808-335-5011
Like many Hanapepe establishments, Helen Lacona's Hanapepe Bakery and Cafe doubles as an art gallery.
Painter Robin McCoy puts the finishing touches on a painting. She works near the window of Kamaaina Cabinets, which features gifts and furniture crafted on by local woodworkers.
3848 Hanapepe Road. (808) 335-5483
The amazing Arius Hopman was first a landscape painter. Six years ago, he bought his first camera to document his art, and turned himself into one of Kauai's foremost photographers, printing his work on canvas. For more, see the next slide.
The interior of the Arius Hopman Gallery, showing the photos (and a few watercolors), mainly drawn from his monthly hikes along Kauai's North Shore.
840C Hanapepe Road, (808) 335-0227, hopmanart.com
The 1911 bridge across the Hanapepe River. It's only one lane, but wide compared to the wooden swinging bridge which provides access to town for some remote houses.
No trip to Hanapepe is complete with a trip across the swaying Swinging Bridge.
Look rickety enough for you?
The wooden foot bridge is the quickest way to town for those who live along the far bank.
Here's the bridge in long view, with the wide Hanapepe River flowing underneath.
The 1919 Seto Store on the Hanapepe River is now offices for a Monsanto seed corn operation. The bridge has survived since 1911.
Customers used to come by boat to the old Seto Store on the Hanapepe River and have merchandise lowered from the window.
This building was once a Chinese laundry. When the new owners first stepped inside, they almost fell through the floor.
For more, see next slide.
Island Art, 3814 Hanapepe Rd., (808) 335-0591
Painter Angela Headley and her husband slept in the back room of this old Chinese laundry for a year while transforming it into the Island Art Gallery. “Miraculously, we’re still married,” she says.
Wood craftsman Rob Bader shares the Art of Marbling gallery with artist Becky Wold, whose marbled silks hang from bamboo poles. 3890 Hanapepe Rd., (808) 482-1472
Leaving historic Hanapepe, on our way to Waimea town.
Japanese plantation workers brought their Buddhist culture to Kauai. The Kauai Soto Zen Temple in Hanapepe is open to the public, but remember it is an active place of worship. Remember also to take off your shoes, as is the custom, before going inside. 3500 Kaumauli'i Highway,
The garden of the Kauai Soto Zen Temple is filled with statuary.
Hanapepe's Salt Pond Beach Park.
A fisherman tries his luck with an old-style Hawaiian throw net off Salt Pond Beach Park.
Why is it called Salt Pond Beach Park? Because old families still make salt the traditional way here, drying seawater in clay ponds. Uncle Charlie Fu showed us around.
The salt crystallizes in ponds laboriously scooped out of the red clay along the shore. Seawater seeps into shallow wells and then is spread along these carefully prepared ponds by Hawaiian families.
A close-up of crystallizing salt. When it dries, it will have the red tinge of ‘alae, the iron-rich oxidized clay of the ponds.
Along the road to Waimea, you can stop at the old Russian fort along the Waimea River. Why is there a Russian fort on Kauai? Look for an upcoming article by historian Peter Von Buol in HAWAII Magazine.
There's still Cyrillic on the sign at the state historical park, one of the few traces of the 19th-century Russian presence here.
There's not much of the star-shaped fort left, just a hike over and around these massive stone walls.
The fort's here because of its commanding view. That's Niihau in the distance.
From the fort, you command a view of the mouth of the Waimea River and Waimea town.
Less than seven miles down the road from Hanapepe sits the town of Waimea, population 2,000. No less historic than Hanapepe, Waimea is bustling by comparison. Here's the Waimea Theatre at town center.
You have to love this name, and the fact that you can get pickled mango right here in Waimea town.
In the Waimea's postage-stamp-size downtown park stands a statue of Waimea’s first outside visitor, Capt. James Cook, who in January 1778 anchored in Waimea Bay and changed the course of Hawaiian history. The statue could use a clean up.
Our favorite place to stay on this end of the island is Waimea Plantation Cottages. These authentic plantation houses have been restored and set into a spacious coconut grove.
9400 Kaumualii Highway, (808) 338-1625.
Every cottage has a kitchen and a wrap-around lanai overlooking the grassy lawn, making you feel like you live there. This is our porch.
Waimea Plantation Cottages is perhaps the most spacious resort in Hawaii. The only problem: The beach is so near the mouth of the muddy Waimea River it's not an appealing place to swim.
Here in downtown Waimea, Lori Cardenas, aka Aunty Lilikoi, makes everything out of passion fruit--jellies, mustards, body washes, and this teriyaki sauce fortified with wasabi.
9875 Waimea Rd., 1-866-LILIKOI, auntylilikoi.com
We regret not eating at Da Booze Shop, but we were driving.
One popular stop is the colorfully restored shack that houses Brian and Steven Blaise's JoJo's Shave Ice, with its 60 flavors.
Mile Marker 23, Kaumuali‘i Hwy., (808) 338-9727
Some of Jo Jo's most popular shave ice combos. They really do have 60 flavors of syrup. We counted them.
One favorite souvenir in these shops is t-shirts, dyed with the red dirt that seems to color everything in Waimea.
Need a souvenir? A lauhala hat? A shell wind chime? A carved coconut? Waimea has them.
We stepped inside of all the clutter and found these two treasures, mother and daughter.
Menehune Ditch Rd. takes you upclose and personal with the muddy Waimea River.
Kauai, as the oldest of the islands, has the most freshwater rivers. This is the Waimea River near Menehune Ditch.
Visitors often stop at the Menehune Ditch, an ancient Hawaiian watercourse (Kiki-a-Ola) whose origins are shrouded in legend. Parts of the ditch are still visible from the road, but, honestly, it’s more exciting to read about than to see.
Like Hanapepe, Waimea has a swinging bridge. This one's even longer and higher—and more prone to swaying, just to get your adrenalin flowing.
Another view of the bridge.
The bridge is the best way to the houses you can barely see in the background.
As I was walking back across the bridge, these two dogs, small and large, trotted down the road, right up the wooden stairs to the bridge and scampered across, right past me, as if the jaunt was nothing. They were clearly more used to it than I.
Heading out of Waimea, you can wind your way up a twisty road to Waimea Canyon.
At this point, we had to encourage photographer David Croxford to stop standing in the middle of the road.
Like the road, the Waimea River maintains a winding course.
As you wind up the road, all of a sudden canyon vistas unfold.
Latham Keaweamahi of the state Forestry and Wildlife division stopped to check in with a crew on the valley floor by radio. Keaweamahi has worked in Waimea Canyon State Park for 25 years. “No matter how many times you look down there, it’s always just wow. I’m taken away by the sight.”
At the Waimea Canyon Lookout, visitors gather. The sight often takes their breath away.
From another vantage along the lookout, a relatively easy drive from Waimea Town.
The advantage of the magazine is that we could stitch all of David Croxford's canyon shots together. You have to see them separately here, but take a look at the Sept.-Oct. issue of HAWAII Magazine, /www.zinio.com/gncissue?is=284233626&ns=usa
Where will the road take us next? Look for a stunning photo essay on the Hana, Maui coast in the Nov.-Dec. issue of HAWAII Magazine.